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  • Writer's pictureBrian A. Raphan, Esq.

What if the decisions you make today could help protect your family's future tomorrow?

Estate planning isn't just for the wealthy or elderly—it's a crucial step for anyone who wants to protect their loved ones and assets.

Consider the scenarios: who will care for your children if you're no longer able? What happens to your business or retirement savings without a clear plan? These questions underscore the importance of proactive estate planning, ensuring that your wishes are honored and your family is provided for, regardless of what the future holds.

Below are some helpful answers to many 'What if' questions.

1. What if I have Loss of capacity.

What if you become incompetent and unable to manage your own affairs? Without a plan the courts will select the person to manage your affairs. With a plan, you pick that person (through a power of attorney).

2. What if I have Minor children and I pass away.

Who will raise your children if you die? Without a plan, a court will make that decision. With a plan, you are able to nominate the guardian of your choice.

3. What if I Die without a will?

Who will inherit your assets? Without a plan, your assets pass to your heirs according to your state’s laws of intestacy (dying without a will). Your family members (and perhaps not the ones you would choose) will receive your assets without benefit of your direction or of trust protection. With a plan, YOU decide who gets your assets, and when and how they receive them.

4. What if it's my second marriage?

If your family is blended as the result of multiple marriages and you do not have a plan, children from different marriages may not be treated as you would wish. With a plan, you determine what goes to your current spouse and to the children from a prior marriage or marriages.

5. What if I have a child with special needs?

Without a plan, a child with special needs risks being disqualified from receiving Medicaid or SSI benefits, and may have to use his or her inheritance to pay for care. With a plan, you can set up a Supplemental Needs Trust that will allow the child to remain eligible for government benefits while using the trust assets to pay for non-covered expenses.

6. What if I want to keep my assets within the family?

Would you prefer that your assets stay in your own family? Without a plan, your child’s spouse may wind up with your money if your child passes away prematurely. If your child divorces his or her current spouse, half of your assets could go to the spouse. With a plan, you can set up a trust that ensures that your assets will stay in your family and, for example, pass to your grandchildren.

7. What if I want my wife and kids to have financial security?

Will your spouse and children be able to survive financially? Without a plan and the income replacement provided by life insurance, your family may be unable to maintain its current living standard. With a plan, life insurance can mean that your family will enjoy financial security.

8. What if I have Retirement Accounts and there's a different beneficiary?

Do you have an IRA or similar retirement account? Without a plan, your designated beneficiary for the retirement account funds may not reflect your current wishes and may result in burdensome tax consequences for your heirs. With a plan, you can choose the optimal beneficiary.

9. What if I own a business?

Do you own a business? Without a plan, you don’t name a successor, thus risking that your family could lose control of the business. With a plan, you choose who will own and control the business after you are gone.

10. How can I Avoid probate? Without a plan, your estate may be subject to delays and excess fees (depending on the state), and your assets will be a matter of public record. With a plan, you can structure things so that probate can be avoided entirely. If you’re still unsure if Estate Planning is for you, call me for a free consultation. You may find that a Will, or other measures such as an Asset Protection Trust may be appropriate for you or your family. Also, if you’d like my Monthly Newsletter on such subjects, click here and enter your information in the lower left corner to subscribe.

If you’re still unsure if Estate Planning is for you, call me for a free consultation. You may find that a Will, or other measures such as an Asset Protection Trust may be appropriate for you or your family. Also, if you’d like my to subscribe to my blog on such subjects, click here and look for the 'Sign Up' tab in the upper right corner

Sincerely, Brian


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